Indian American pre-teens present ‘holographic wall’ concept to Maryland county officials

Members of “Techno PrimX” pose for a photo after a presentation of their idea on January 5, 2020. Standing, left to right, are Zaheen Ahmed, Saayuj Nair, Hansel Suthar, Neil Panchal and Adrian Arokiyaselvam. Sitting, left to right, are Vineet Kapoor, Sathvik Dasari, Siddharth Karnati, Aeshan Somarajan, Sakthibala Ramanathan.

The “Holo-X” concept is designed for a safer commute for school kids.

Clarksburg, Maryland: As participants in the First Lego League robotics tournament, a group of ten Indian American kids, aged nine to eleven, got together under this year’s FLL theme “City Shapers” to solve a problem they face today in an innovative way.

The First Lego League is an international competition organized by the international youth organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) for elementary and middle school students.

The Clarksburg kids, who call themselves “Techno PrimX”, came up with a holographic wall, which is designed to replace the conventional flashing stop sign, typically found on the side of a school bus on the press of a button when bus stops and also implement at cross walks near school zones.

Named “Holo-X,” the concept is an adjustable 15-foot by 15-foot red holographic wall that is intelligent, visibly impaired friendly and powered by solar panel.

The idea is that oncoming vehicles will be much more likely to follow safety rules upon seeing the large red holographic wall, as opposed to the traditional stop sign or painted cross walks.

In addition, those passing through the wall regardless will be subjected to a fine and motion detectors will send out sirens, according to the kids. The kids said in the event the hologram at cross walks fail, drones will be deployed to project the holographic wall.

The group members of Techno PrimX — Zaheen Ahmed, Sathvik Dasari, Aeshaan Somarajan, Shakthibala Ramanathan, Siddharth Karnati, Hansel Suthar, Neil Panchal, Saayuj Nair, Vineet Kapoor and Adrian Arokiyaselvam — are all residents of the same Clarksburg neighborhood community.

Dasari said the plan is to implement Holo-X on all crosswalks closest to school zones, at first in the surrounding area, and then across Montgomery County.

The children presented their invention before a panel of seven experts from Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), the City of Frederick, owner of a construction and engineering company, and dozens of parents with a mock-reporter asking the child journalists and analysts questions about Holo-X on January 5.

Experts present included Rebecca Torma, Manager, MCDOT; department engineers William Whelan, Brenda Pardo, Narayanan Kutty Menon and Deepak Somarajan; Cherian Eapen, Traffic Engineer, City of Frederick; and Wilson Jorge Pardo, owner of BWE Construction & Engineering, Inc.

Talking to the American Bazaar, Eapen praised the kids’ effort as “pretty impressive.” He was especially happy to see “them talk about real world problems and developing a very simple, feasible idea,” said Eapen. “I think they’ve got a good chance of really getting to implement it.”

Members of “Techno PrimX” with experts after their presentation on January 5, 2020.
Members of “Techno PrimX” with experts after their presentation on January 5, 2020.

While the experts were impressed by the presentation, they did not hold back in terms of offering feedback as it wasn’t for a competition or grant, but rather as a trial.

A few experts had questions about the pricing of Holo-X and whether the estimated price of around $1,000 was really accurate.

Another issue cited was the possible distraction a large projector could impose on oncoming vehicles.

While the group has yet to present for a grant, they appear to already have some serious backers.

One of the group members, Hansel Suthar, told The American Bazaar that PTCAPR, a software company, already wants to implement their idea. They have also received a $500 scholarship from NetCraftsmen in support of the idea.

In terms of next steps, Techno PrimX member, Zaheen Ahmed said “We want to test [Holo-X] full scale. In the future we also want to implement Holo-X  on intersections replacing traffic lights if this is successful.”

They also want to do some more research to enhance their idea.

The group came up with the idea for Holo-X after learning of the current ineffectiveness of standard stop signs and zebra cross walks.

Their research found that 120 students die in school zone accidents each year and a majority of these accidents were caused by distracted drivers, distracted walkers, and low visibility.

As young students themselves, many of them having to walk to and from school as well, the team understood the severity and proximity of the issue and realized something needed to be done and thus the idea of Holo-X was born.

However, before hitting on Holo-X, they worked on several other ideas including one involving solar roadways, light panels on the road that would flash as a school bus approached.

(This post has been updated.)

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